Michiel & Ismilinda Epema

Melissa, Davi


We are Michiel and Ismilinda Epema, happy parents of Melissa (9) and Davi (6). Michiel is from Zwolle and was sent to Youth With A Mission in Fortaleza (YWAM Brazil) in 2007. Ismilinda is from Fortaleza and worked as a volunteer at YWAM. After our marriage (2010), Ismilinda became a missionary worker at YWAM. In 2012 we started a community work in a village which grew into a church planting project. Our last year in Brazil we worked in a slum. In 2020, Michiel was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which had profound effects on our lives. We decided to remigrate to the Netherlands. Despite the disease, Michiel could do a lot, albeit with limitations. We kept the desire for missionary work, and worked for a year as volunteers at YWAM in Heerde. Michiel meanwhile also worked as an on-call worker with young people with autism. His contract there was not renewed but a special twist came....

Community ministry in Zwolle

Meanwhile, we had come across more and more Brazilians in Zwolle and surroundings. Portuguese speakers in the Netherlands often do not find a connection with existing churches, partly because of language and culture. We felt called to establish a Portuguese/Dutch-speaking congregation for this target group. In 2022 we started a home group for this target group the same year this grew into a project for church planting (Evangeliegemeente Emmanuel) supported by the VEZ, ECM and SIGZ (Stichting Interculturele Gemeentestichting Zwolle). Every other week we hold a bilingual meeting with a children's program, concluded with snacks and drinks. Wednesday evenings we have prayer time via Whatsapp. The first men's breakfast followed in January. There are also Bible studies, pastoral care and activities for women, kids and couples. We want to work towards an independent, healthy and living church of Jesus Christ that radiates His light and brings God's love to a broken world. Prayer is the basis for every step we take.

Work and study

Ismilinda works 2 days as a laboratory assistant at water laboratory Aqualysis in Zwolle. Here she has the opportunity to share her faith with foreign colleagues. Ismilinda completed a teacher training program in Chemistry in Brazil. She enjoys studying Dutch and Chemistry at home! Michiel is studying part-time at the PThU (Protestant Theological University) Amsterdam pre-master's Theology program. “The study gives me more background and guidance for church work!” Michiel and Ismilinda each devote about 15 hours weekly to church work. Michiel is also a language coach at Stichting Geloof in Taal. On Mondays, he helps non-native speakers with language lessons. After prayer (before the participants arrive) we have coffee with them and the lesson begins. The coaches are Christian, while many participants are Muslim. Although we do not evangelize directly, we get to spread God's love.

SIGZ website: www.sigz.net
Website Faith in Language: www.geloofintaal.nl

Cross Cultural Workers in the Netherlands
Country of origin
The Netherlands / Brazil

With ECM since 2023